Updated Mon, Jul 28, 2014 10:56 am
In a place that is usually reservation-only and serves multiple-course dinners, the word express seems out of place.
But Hocking College graduate Josh Hinty is trying to make a name for himself serving lunches with some of the fine-dining flair of the venue, 9 Tables on North Shafer Street. Hinty is now operating 9 Tables Express at the restaurant, which did not previously serve lunch.
Hinty worked his way up in the dining industry for 20 years, helping his waitress mom at a Chillicothe restaurant as a child and working his way through the ranks of the business. He graduated in 2013 with a degree in Culinary Arts from Hocking College.
"I probably wouldn't have the passion that I do without my mom," Hinty said.
Now, with his wife Courtney and two young children, Hinty is hoping to strike out on his own with a little help from his friends.
He met 9 Tables owner Bill Justice after Hinty's wife met him at her previous job and told Justice that Hinty was a chef.
"Pretty soon, she'd bugged him enough that he said, 'well I have to meet this guy,'" Hinty said.
After seeing what Hinty could do, Justice opened up his doors to the family, offering them a spot to serve lunch and get started in the Athens culinary scene.
Courtney Hinty took over the business end of the restaurant, taking to social media to build clientele, handling the bookkeeping and doing the grocery shopping.
"I was all for (starting 9 Tables Express)," Courtney Hinty said. "After we talked about it I was on him to get a menu together and decide what he wanted to do."
His menu is small, but includes a variety of dishes, ranging from mussels in white wine to pulled pork and hamburgers and a signature sherry-soaked trifle for dessert. Everything is available to carry out, and larger parties can make advanced reservations.
He said the training he received at Hocking College helped him learn what he hadn't been able to learn elsewhere.
"There are teachers there that have forgotten more than I know," Hinty said.
The Alfredo sauce and inspirations for other recipes were learned from the top chefs of the school, like Chef Alfonso Contrisciani, a certified master chef.
Josh Hinty's ultimate goal is to own his own restaurant, but for now, he's happy being able to cook for people and hopefully give them a different mindset for the rest of their day.
"I love to feed people and I want them to leave here thinking 'today's going to be a better day,'" he said.
He's trying to build a base to start a "Sunday supper," something he said is often missing from family time nowadays.
"When I was a kid we always went to Sunday supper, no matter what else we did during the week," Josh Hinty said. "I want to bring that back."
For now he's just testing interest in the idea, and is hoping people will call for reservations so he can start planning to make it a regular event.
Hinty's dream is not just a selfish one, he said. Just as his dream began with family, he's hoping for success to give back to his family.
"I gambled everything on this to have something for me and something for my kids," he said. "This is a way of life for me."
Nine Tables Express is open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.